Department Chairs:
Erik Inglis, art history
Pipo Nguyen-duy, studio art

Administrative Assistant:
Jamie Jacobs, program coordinator

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8181
Fax: (440) 775-8969

Art Building 2, Room 166
91 N. Main St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: 9:00am-4:00pm

Matthew Rarey

Matthew Rarey

Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the black Atlantic

Contact Information


Allen Art Building, 104
(440) 775-8129

Personal Office Hours:
Monday, 3:00-4:30pm

Personal Web Site:

Matthew Rarey

Matthew Rarey

Educational Background

  • PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
  • MA University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
  • BA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005

I am art historian of the black Atlantic world, which means I research the development and transformation of African art forms as they travel back and forth between Africa, the Americas (especially Brazil) and Europe. My work privileges the impact of African artists and ideas in diasporic contexts, with particular interests in assemblage and ephemeral aesthetics, conceptions of enslavement and its visual representation, and the development of Afro-Atlantic religious arts. Binding together these threads, my current book manuscript investigates the accumulative history of bolsas de mandinga: small protective pouches with cross-cultural origins in West Africa that took on new forms and histories as they spread across the black Atlantic world over the past four centuries.

My work on black Atlantic visual culture has appeared in the edited volumes African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World (Cambria Press, 2015) and Theorizing Visual Studies (Routledge, 2012); the journal Romantic Circles Praxis Series, as well as the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (Oxford, 2016). My forthcoming projects include a critical analysis of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Beloved in the context of mid-19th century transnational abolition dialogues, and a study of the relationship between cartography and maroon settlements in 18th century Brazil.

At Oberlin, I teach introductory courses on African arts, as well as intermediate and advanced classes on African diaspora arts, cross-cultural exchange, and the visual representation of enslavement. Prior joining the Oberlin faculty, I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carthage College, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.